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March 19th, 2013

I’m unsure when I built my first web page. I do know that it was a simple “home page” (remember those?) hosted on the defunct Prairienet community network, which itself debuted in 1993. My guess is that I joined Prairienet soon afterward.

The first site that I created with an online audience in mind was a fan tribute to the ’80s sci-fi TV series V. You’ll still find a version of it right here on this blog. Unfortunately, as those files have been copied multiple times, their original date stamps are lost.

But my topic for today is the second site I built.

In the early-to-mid ’90s, I was seriously into action figures. Oh, you might think that I’m still into them, but not in the way I was then. I didn’t restrict myself to a couple of toy lines; I bought whatever tickled my fancy. I was a frequent contributor to the Usenet group rec.toys.action-figures, and even a member of a secret cabal of collectors who helped each other acquire more-difficult-to-find items.

I was also very much into Star Trek: The Next Generation. And my favorite character wasn’t Picard or Data or Worf. It was Dr. Beverly Crusher, as portrayed by actress Gates McFadden. I was smitten with her from the get-go. Sure, Deanna Troi was boobtastic, but it was the dancing doctor that held my attention.

And so it was that, as they say, two great tastes tasted great together. In the early days of the World Wide Web, I was amused by some of the oddly-specific fan sites that had sprung up, and wanted to create one of my own. In my head, the joke would be that it would be something insanely narrow in focus, something no one else in the entire world would devote a site to.

Thus was born Bevheads. I reasoned that anyone could make a Star Trek action figure site, but who in their right mind would build one solely for Beverly Crusher toys?

The original "Bevheads" logo.

Eventually the joke began to run away with itself. As parodies often do, it came to resemble the very thing at which it was poking fun. I went from simply photographing tiny, plastic Beverlys to customizing my own. As I cannibalized figures for my Frankensteinian creations, the name “Bevheads” acquired a second meaning. Headless bodies and bodiless heads cluttered my work space.

I gained a little notoriety for my efforts, but was bothered by those occasions on which people failed to pick up on the joke. I bristled at being featured on the now-defunct site Portal of Evil, which subjected fan pages to mean-spirited mockery. One day I got fed up and deleted my entire site. Some of the figures were sold off in a general purge of my collection, and if I still have any of the photos, they’re hidden away on a poorly-labelled CD-ROM.

Bevheads was on my mind today when my friend Dave Lartigue directed me to this: Gates McFadden’s own Tumblr feed. While it’s ostensibly about her theater company, mostly she’s…posting photos of Beverly Crusher action figures. I am gobsmacked. (My actual reply to Dave L.: “You are fucking kidding me.”)

I did some Googling around in preparation for this blog entry, hoping to find some of my old photos floating in the ether. And I had my second surprise of the day: this tribute to Bevheads, complete with an Andy Warhol-inspired photo montage of one of my headless Bevs. It made me happy to learn that somewhere out there, someone got a kick out of the enthusiasm with which I pursued my oddly-specific mania.

While the original Bevheads pictures may be forever lost–with the exception of the one I stole back from the above-mentioned tribute–I pulled out my remaining Beverlys for a little photo shoot this evening.

Here are some of the original, unaltered figures made by Playmates Toys back in the ’90s. Front row (L-R): ’40s attire (from the episode “The Big Goodbye”); “Generations” movie uniform (actually an unused costume design); two standard Bevs (without and with lab jacket); Captain Beverly Picard (from the series finale “All Good Things”); Starfleet Academy cadet. Rear: 9″ scale doll with cloth costume and rooted hair.

Some decidedly non-canonical Beverlys. These were simple custom jobs involving head-swaps and a bit of paint. From L-R: captain’s uniform; dress uniform; Original Series miniskirt.

My weirder, creepier custom jobs (L-R): “tough chick” (body from a wrestling character); “slumber party” (body from the teen soapĀ Swans Crossing); “Jabba the Hutt’s slave” (body from Princess Leia, natch); aerobics outfit (from the episode “The Price”); Lego; “Mirror Universe.”

My old friend Doug Mikkelson built this “Beverly Fett” for me as a birthday present. It’s noticeably more elaborate than my own customs.

And now for something completely different: a custom Deanna Troi, built from another of those Swans Crossing figures. I believe that I called her “Western Fun Troi.”

Finally, here are some of my bisected Bevs, including the one which inspired that Warhol homage. Amusingly, it was still in the same pose as when I took the original photo way back when.

I hope that you enjoyed this look into my psychosis. Why are you backing away from me?


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